UPC Ireland has won a victory against four of the largest companies in the music business after the High Court in Dublin ruled that laws designed to identify internet users that had illegally downloaded music files were unenforceable.
The cableco had stood firm after an out of court settlement reached last year between the record labels, EMI, Sony, Warner and Universal, and the telco Eircom.
In his ruling Justice Peter Charleton said that while solutions to the problem of internet piracy were available, the rule of law was yet to catch up with the technology. “It is not surprising that the legislative response laid down in our country in the Copyright and Related Rights Act 2000, at a time when this problem was not perceived to be as threatening to the creative and retail economy as it has become in 2010, has made no proper provision for the blocking, diverting or interrupting of internet communications intent on breachin copyright.” He added that in failing to provide legislative provisions for blocking, diverting and interrupting internet copyright theft, Ireland had not yet complied with its obligations under European law.
It emerged in court that a substantial proportion of UPC’s 150,000 internet customers – or their dependents– were responsible for illegal downloads.
In a statement, UPC said it would continue to work with the key stakeholders to identify areas of concern. “UPC has repeatedly stressed that it does not condone piracy and has always taken a strong stance against illegal activity on its network. It takes all steps required by the law to combat specific infringements which are brought to its attention and will continue to co-operate with rights holders where they have obtained the necessary Court Orders for alleged copyright infringements.”
The company maintains that an ISP cannot be held liable for the content transmitted across its network and cannot be held liable for the actions of its subscribers.